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  1. #1

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    I have a simple question and hope "Theory" is the right board.

    When notating a blues - say in F - usually people use the key signature the blues is in, in my example one flat (Bb).

    But technically a blues is mixolydian and hence a blues in F should be notated with two flats (Bb and Eb).

    But nobody does that.

    Why?

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  3. #2

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    It’s probably just clearer and less confusing for people used to reading conventional notation and key sigs. to just stick to F key sig. and notate any ‘blues’ accidentals such as flat 7 and flat 3rds.

  4. #3

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    I think the way it works is
    Chords have roots
    Scales have tonics
    Keys have a key note and a "one chord" whose root is the key note
    The melody notes and any scales with which they may share notes don't determine the key
    The "one chord's" root determines the key note of the key
    Last edited by pauln; 06-30-2020 at 07:05 AM.

  5. #4

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    My guess is using the key signature with two flats would suggest that the tune is in the key of Bb and F7 is the V chord. But that's not how the listener is supposed to hear it. It starts with the tonic chord with an accidental.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 06-30-2020 at 12:32 PM.

  6. #5

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    Both the IV and the V chord (both dom7) wouldn't fit the key designation of Bb (major) - they contain notes not in the key.
    Although Blues follows the basics of western harmony it is something of a system of its own with dom7 chords for I, IV and V (and beyond that) and pitching the b3rd against the natural 3rd for example. A Blues in F is in the key of F - see above.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    It’s probably just clearer and less confusing for people used to reading conventional notation and key sigs. to just stick to F key sig. and notate any ‘blues’ accidentals such as flat 7 and flat 3rds.
    I think clarity might be a big point.

    Can't count the times I got the name of the first chord when asking for the key they want a song being played in.

    "Autumn Leaves, OK, what key?"
    "A minor" (means E minor / G maj, but names the first chord)

    With the guys I usually play with we normally say the number of accidentals, so:

    "Autumn Leaves, OK, key?"
    "One up!"

    Never fails.

  8. #7

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    What key is the melody in??

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by marcwhy View Post
    What key is the melody in??

    Take "Sidewinder" (Lee Morgan).

    It's notated with 3 flats. But there is not a single "D" in the melody, lots of Db though ... shouldn't we say it's in Eb mixo = 4 flats?

    Just asking...

  10. #9

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    Depends what you're looking at. There are several transcriptions of that tune on You Tube. One has it in F, another in Bb, and another with varying key sigs for different instruments (but they all sound the same).

    Personally, I'd use the least confusing for the reader/player. As Tommo said, a blues in F is in F.

    And there probably should be a 'rule' on it too.

  11. #10

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    I guess I'd just say, "for (confusing) simplicity's sake."

    Take a basic, I7-IV7-V7 "blues:" even though we can just say, "blues in Bb!" and everyone knows what to play, it's not in a (diatonic) "key" of Bb. If we made this a "minor blues " in Bb, it's the same thing: not in the (diatonic) key of Bbmin. So the key signatures will also not be "accurate," since there's no corresponding key to these chord progressions.

  12. #11

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    So the key signatures will also not be "accurate," since there's no corresponding key to these chord progressions.
    Exactly.

    But if the tune ends on an F note preceded by C7 - F (or even F7) then it's in bloody F!

    Actually, I'm pretty sure most blues at the start was played with major chords. Then, later, they changed it to dom chords for effect. So the F7 in F is really an ornamentation rather than anything else.

    The dominant V chord, of course, doesn't have the blue note. It's a C7 with a natural E, not Eb. That's very significant.